The Aiki way

Written by Mike Clarke

Aiki Kai Australia’s annual aikido summer school is an institution in martial arts Down Under, and, for aikidoka, it brings them face to face with some of Japan’s and the world’s pre-eminent masters of the art. In 2016, Japan’s Ikuhiro Kubota Shihan was the one who captured the locals’ attention, and Mike Clarke was there to see it. He also chatted to the visiting master about his budo philosophy, the cultivation of ki, and surviving cancer, twice.

Ikuhiro Kubota Shihan at the Aiki Kai Summer School.

This idea, that the real ground upon which progress is made is mental and not physical, is a common thread throughout the martial arts, and yet few seem able to move beyond ‘mastering technique’. I wanted to know if Kubota Sensei could give me an example of how the development of a strong mind was useful in everyday life, and he responded, “You know, even if you devote your life to budo, you cannot eliminate the possibility of things like cancer. I have had cancer twice in my life. The first time I was diagnosed the doctor told me I had about three more years to live.

“I believe that if I had become overwhelmed by fear of that cancer, my antibodies would have stopped working. So I thought about how to activate my antibodies and I realised that if I became fearful of the cancer, I could not do that, so first I worked on eliminating any fear about the cancer.

“Once I was able to remove the fear from my mind, then I began to realise something different was happening in my body, and I found my antibodies were working very, very well. Actually, when I was suffering with that cancer 10 years ago, in the same hospital as me there were 60 patients with cancer altogether; today I am the only one to survive. All the others have gone.

“So the important thing is to consider how to train your body and your mind together. Bearing in mind that my body is allowed to be here now by the ultimate presence in the universe. You and me, everybody, we are all a part of the universe and so, as a part of the universe, I first ask for permission to access the available energy, and then use it.

“Now I am 72 years old. I expect I will continue to practise my master’s way for another 20 years or even more, but I cannot predict that, because no one can know for sure about the future. But, I know that for as long as I am still here I will continue to adhere to the way of practising my master’s aikido. I have great confidence that if I can do that, I will still be here for another 30 or 40 years.”

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